I sighed when I read a recent article on the Patheos website entitled, “Due to Bible Distribution, a Colorado Elementary School Will Now Give Away Satanic Coloring Books.” It’s like the ultra-right wing, conservative Christians can’t help themselves. They have to start stirring up shit until they get what they want, then they discover to their horror that it’s backfired on them. They’ve been down this path before in both Florida and California, and probably several other states as well.
How do they not grasp that freedom of religion in the schools means you have to either present all sides of the religious debate to students or none of the sides? The outrage that the inclusion of coloring books from the Satanic Temple in this small, Colorado town would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. What did they expect when they tried to cram their beliefs down the throats of children who weren’t their own? What about children at the school who might be Jewish, Bhuddist or Muslim? Did they not care that the passing out of Christian materials to these children might be infringing on their rights? Or does it not count if they are outside the fold of Christianity?
While I’m not a proponent of Satanism, I will concede that if you check out the actual website for The Satanic Temple, it’s NOT what most people think it is. They aren’t murdering animals in ritual sacrifice or drinking the blood of virgins. They are, in fact, a wholly rationalist group that relies on science and the real world. They frown on supernatural belief systems in any form. But there are other groups out there that do worship a supernatural Satan. The group in Colorado does not happen to be one of them. I do think that the Satanic Temple espouses a disturbingly extreme view of individualism at the expense of the rules of law and social morality, but that’s a topic for another day. It seems like the most controversial mission they are currently undertaking is to prevent corporal punishment in schools; hardly the work of devil worshipers.
Let’s keep any kind of religion out of the schools – after all, there is plenty for students to focus on during school hours, including learning, participating in sports and developing social skills. They can learn about God, Vishnu, Mohammed and Satan on their own time and within their own homes. It’s not the school board’s job to teach our children about God. It’s their job to provide strong teachers who will guide our children in the way of learning so that they can discover what they believe in themselves.